Overcoming Anxiety As A Creative

Anxiety came into my life long before I decided to become a designer and lettering artist, back when I use go to to parties with some friends as a teenager and, as the everyone's expectations around me were incredibly high and I had no idea how to block this from having a negative influence on myself, my expectations began to grow pretty high as well. That made me throw up every time, which made my friends say I was allergic to parties. What they didn't know is that I was allergic to them. KIDDING.

I started to identify as anxiety what I had after an episode. I felt my hand hurt after drawing for too many hours one day and suddenly began to imagine the thousands of terrible things that could be happening to me, making me feel I could be having a heart attack. In the end I was having a panic attack, or at least that’s what the nurse at the hospital told me during a heart exam. Later I began searching for anything that could make me feel better, reading books, watching videos and taking a seminar I had promised I would to my uncle before he passed away. That course taught me about meditation, and so many things beyond. I learned that I needed to control my own mind and thoughts or otherwise, they would control me.

I have no cure for your anxiety, because it can be a lot of different things for each one of us, but I can tell you one thing: look for a therapist. Anxiety is A LOT about self control, about imagining a lot of bad things happening in the future because you’re not worth anything good in life, or about super high expectations aiming at something you can’t control. 

I created Lettering to Anxiety with sentences that were coming up during my therapy sessions and noted them to make me feel better when I needed to. And I suggest you to follow these sentences, to understand their meaning and remember these phrases when you’re feeling lost, they certainly make me better whenever I need.

To overcome anxiety is to live one step at a time, noticing any subtle agitating behavior, keeping your expectations as low as possible, and reminding yourself every single day that you deserve the good things you receive. Bad things happen to all of us, but good things happen as well, and sometimes we keep waiting for the bad things to come, and forget how wonderful our life already is, despite all the bad that has happened. Sometimes we’re so anxious about something that we forget to be grateful. And I don't mean using #gratitude on Instagram. Please don’t do that.

Having anxiety is sometimes to have the need of being in control of everything all time. We can’t control time, know exactly when we’ll achieve our goals, or what other people think or say. We can’t control who’s going to live or die, but we can study about death in other cultures and religions or even become a doctor. We need to understand that bad things happen to all of us and the only thing we can do is to appreciate and enjoy time with those we love, so when they’re gone, we won’t regret that hug we didn’t give, or that sincere “I love you” we didn’t say.

Overcoming anxiety is learning 24/7 about your own behaviors, what they really mean and thinking about what you CAN change so that you won’t feel that way anymore. It is to face your worst fears, and think to yourself that you’re AMAZING for overcoming that after years struggling. It is to throw up all your organs out during a crisis, then clean up your mouth and just keep going - because anxiety crises will always come back, but it’s all in your head, and you can’t let it hold you back anymore.

Don’t avoid your anxiety, or it will grow, making you fight harder to overcome it later. If a crisis is coming, understand rationally why (or maybe with a therapist's help, if necessary), let it come and after resting a bit, just continue to follow your path. The crises will become smaller with time. Treat your crisis like any other disease: let it come, treat with medication if needed, rest and take care of your body and mind. With patience and respect.

And for anyone that knows someone who deals with anxiety, you can help an anxious person by listening to them, by respecting their time and being there to talk patiently about what can be done. Oh yes, and give love. Lots of love, so they’ll can know and feel that they’re not as horrible as they think. :)

Text Revision: Mari Pinheiro

Why Lettering?

After six years studying it, and four years working in this field, I believe now it's a good time to do this. This is not going to be a book, I promise, because for starters I usually don’t talk that much, I'm mostly an introvert. But I promise you that every single word below is coming from my heart.

Why did I choose lettering? Why not study anatomy, and then work in concept art, or even become one of those performers or contemporary artists that most of people don’t understand. I was studying Visual Arts when all started and I chose that major because I wanted to become a graphic designer. Not exactly the right beginning, but this is just one of those things we take a few years to finally realize are right for us.

For most of freshman year, all I could do was draw heads. They were realistic and drawn with a 6B pencil, the same one I would use to draw some music lyrics that were stuck in my head - nothing of my own, just some Queen, Tears for Fears (thanks, dad) and The Kooks here and there - I’m very far away from writing (or playing) music of my own, believe me. But between a very badly drawn skull in black ink and a piece of Bohemian Rhapsody on my sketchbook, I came up with something my drawing professor really liked. Not the skull, of course, but the really badly stylized lyric I had drawn.

“Forget the rest she said, “invest your time in this”, pointing to the lyric.
“Wait, what? You're saying I should invest my time writing?” - fair question, because that could have me change my major from Visual Arts to Literature which was, well, kinda confusing.
“Of course not, I'm talking about this thing where you draw letters. Have you heard of letterpress?”

I started researching about letterpress, then typography, calligraphy and in the end found this weird thing where people draw letters as an illustration, not just for computer use. And even crazier, people consider that a form of art! With that in mind, I give most of my thanks to Paula Almozara. A couple of years later she came to me with a Letterpress research project and told me to apply. She was looking for a student to embrace it and do the work with her. Of course, I accepted it with no second thoughts and even though the project wasn’t approved by the government later on, I learned so many incredible things during that time, embracing even more that world of letters she introduced me to.

After that time it became harder for some other professors to accept that drawing letters was a form of art, because they had never seen somebody do that type of work, at least not in my college. But I didn’t care, that was all I had and knew how to do, and it felt weird to draw a sentence for a class project while everyone else was drawing a head, or an animal, or even a body. But their way, wasn’t my way, and I knew that. 

During the last year of my graduation course, I began to create some book covers with sentences about happiness I had heard before (thanks Grey’s Anatomy), and I was just beginning to do vector work because it was very expensive to buy a lot of brush pens and markers every single week, and I already had a Wacom tablet and a nice computer (the very old 2011 MacBook Pro, bought with my IBM salary - one of the few good things that company allowed me to have by 2012). I couldn’t keep wasting money, and Adobe Illustrator was very cheap for students (it still is). I began doing vector work and that senior year, I met this other incredible woman and professor called Luisa Paraguai.

Luisa already knew some people I admired in the typography world from São Paulo, so when she introduced herself and I could see all her knowledge on typography and graphic design, my eyes began shining with happiness, because FINALLY someone in my college would teach me something I really wanted to spend hours with. Luiza explained the basic structure of typography, showed everyone some amazing references I had already researched by that time. It was everything I ever wanted and the only downside is that I only had this class for six months when I really should have had four years on this topic throughout my college career. As my final project arrived and I felt lost when it came to color palettes and concepts, Luisa spent half an hour teaching me about color theory, which helped me so much that I use until these days.

I finalized my project, graduated and three years later the Dean of my major department asked me to give a lettering workshop to the freshmen. Hard work is always worth it, and talent DOESN’T EXIST. :)

Text Revision: Mari Pinheiro